The increasing availability of data and improved analytic techniques now enable us to better understand when and where investing in nature can deliver net benefits for people − especially with respect to the most vulnerable populations in developing countries. These advances open the door for efficient interventions that can advance multiple SDGs at once. Recently, we harmonized a suite of global datasets to explore the critical nexus of forests, poverty and human health – an overlap of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6 and 15. Our approach combined demographic and health surveys for 297,112 children in 35 developing countries with data describing the local environmental conditions for each child4 (Fig. 1a; see online materials for details). This allowed us to estimate the effect forests may play in supporting human health, while controlling for the influence of important socio-economic differences. We extended this work to look at how forests affect three childhood health concerns of global significance – stunting, anemia, and diarrheal disease.